Natalie Pescetti recently reminded me of the following story that teaches us to honor our past. No matter how many lapses of judgment we may have had, it is a lesson in gratitude and appreciation for without our hardships and challenges we could not rise to the next level. By building upon our former selves, our prior experiences convert into the fuel that fans our new beginnings to start anew.
According to the legend of the phoenix, only one of these mythical birds could be alive in the world at a time. It was a beautiful bird with colorful plumage in reds, purples, and yellows that lived in a place of unimaginable beauty where nothing ever died. The years passed until the phoenix had been alive for a thousand years. The sacred bird, feeling the burden of its age, knew it was time to die. So, the phoenix flew into the land of the mortals across jungles, torrid plains, and scented spice groves. Upon reaching the forests, the mythical bird collected an assortment of aromatic herbs. It continued on its journey until it reached Phoenicia. The phoenix, alighting on the topmost branches of a tall palm tree, built a nest of the herbs and awaited the dawn, which would herald its death. As the sun rose, the phoenix, facing east, sang a bewitching song. (That reminds me of the thorn birds, but that is another story.) The sun god, captivated by the sweet melody, pauses to listen. After a while, the sun god whips his horses into motion. A spark from the chariot flares, igniting and consuming the nest and the phoenix in flames, reducing all to ashes. From the funeral pyre, a young phoenix rises. What does the newly risen phoenix do? It collects the ashes of its old self and sacredly embalms them in an egg formed of myrrh. The young phoenix then embarks for the City of the Sun, Heliopolis, to deposit the egg on the altar. Afterward, it makes the journey back to whence the old phoenix came.
There is a deeper lesson here, however, one I know all too well. The only way we can achieve our heart’s desire is by losing paradise. Everything that was created by the ego: financial security, fame, material possessions, and sometimes even relationships cannot survive for living from our higher selves cannot be founded on shallowness.
“Transformation is often more about unlearning than learning.” —Richard Rohr
The wizard within each of us helps us seek wisdom and enlightenment by providing us with opportunities or challenges to objectively see ourselves and release the painful experiences that keep us from progressing. Just like the phoenix, we need to use our past experiences to stimulate our growth from the ashes of our former self.
“We all leave footprints as we journey through life—make sure yours are worth following.”
Heeding the wisdom of the legend, take a few moments to listen to your higher self, to the wizard within. What have you been longing to accomplish? Notice too, where you are feeling out of alignment. What have you been carrying for years that you would like to release finally? What fears or emotions are you still harboring? Sitting in the stillness, listen to your heart. Then lovingly acknowledge each experience that surfaces, gratefully recognize each one for the lesson it provided, and gently surrender it to the light to be engulfed in the flames of self-transformation. Visualize yourself being immersed in a luminous shower of brilliant light, radiating love to everything around you. From this place, let your mind entertain all you desire to create in your life. Envision yourself living that life. How does it feel? Consider everything you perceived. Symbolically scoop up the ashes and place them in a sacred egg as a reminder of how far you have come. Celebrate yourself!
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
– Carl Jung
How are you embracing your opportunity for new beginnings?